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02/12/13 02/12/13 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] >> from pacifica, this is "democracy now!" >> i declare that i renounce the ministry of bishop of rome, successor of st. peter, entrusted to me by the cardinals on the 19th of april 2005. >> the pope has resigned, the first time in 600 years. his resignation comes as the catholic church is facing scrutiny over its handling of the one increased sexual abuse
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scandal and its crackdown on liberal nuns. we will speak with barbara blaine of the survivors network of those abused by priests and sister simone campbell of the catholic social justice group network, which was heavily criticized the vatican's report last year. in a black history month special, we remember the lives of the legendary civil rights activist, singer and actor paul robeson and his wife eslanda. >> i have never separated by work as an artist from my work as a human being. i have always believed more strongly to me my art is always a weapon. >> we will speak with historian barbara ransby, author of the new book, "eslanda: the large and unconventional life of mrs. paul robeson." >> both paul and essie refused to renounce their radical friends and refused to renounce their own radical views. again, they paid a price for it.
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paul was blacklisted, they lost their house, had extensive fbi files and so forth. >> but first, north korea has just carried out its largest ever nuclear test. it says the test was done in the face of increased hostility from the u.s. all of that and more coming up. this is "democracy now!,", the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. north korea is drawing global condemnation for a new underground nuclear test. the north korean government confirmed the test after seismic activity of 4.9 magnitude was picked up in the korean peninsula. north korea had vowed to conduct rocket launches and a u.s.-and declared test after the u.n. security council resolution tightened sanctions in response to rocket launch two months ago. in a statement, u.n. secretary general ban ki-moon condemned the test, calling it "deplorable" and "a clear and grave violation." the security council is holding
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an emergency session on north korea later today. two men have been charged in the shooting death of a 15-year-old girl struck by random gunfire just days after performing at president obama's inauguration. hadiya pendleton had recently returned from washington, where she performed with her school marching band during the inaugural festivities. she was laid to rest saturday at a funeral attended by first lady michelle obama. police said the suspects are 18 and 20-year-old members of a street gang who opened fire at who they mistakenly thought were gang rivals. the white house meanwhile has announced hadiya pendleton's parents will be among president obama's guests tonight at the state of the union. the chicago home of the obamas is about a mile from where hadiya was killed. the pendletons will be joined by a number of other guests touched by gun violence. at least 24 democratic congressmembers are bringing victims of gun violence and their families. one republican guest is trying
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attention, ted nugent. he is attending with texas congress member steve stockman. the secret service investigated him for making threatening comments about president obama last year. a gunman killed two women at a delaware courthouse on monday before dying in a shootout with police. the gunman was reportedly the father of a man embroiled in a bitter custody dispute with one of the victims. delaware police sergeant paul shavack announced the shooting. >> a lone gunman walked into the lobby area of the county courthouse and opened fire. updated information i can give you is two billion females were killed in the shooting. 2 capitol police officers were shot. the conditions are non-life threatening. the gunman is dead inside the lobby. >> armed rebels have seized syria's largest hydroelectric
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dam amidst ongoing fighting in the capital damascus. the news comes as rebels are also preparing an offensive to seize an eastern city. at least 13 people were killed and dozens wounded when a bus exploded near syria's border with turkey. speaking at a public event in new york, u.n. secretary general ban ki-moon continued to warn syria is being torn apart. >> fighting and citrine rages are on the rise. the catalog of world crimes is mounting, sexual violence is widespread the destruction of systematic. syria is being torn apart limb by limb. >> admits the unrelenting violence, both the al-assad regime and the opposition are opening the window to potential up associations. responding to a rival offer for talks and the opposition- controlled north, the assad regime said monday it's willing to meet anywhere abroad.
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in an interview, assange, a member said he would sit down with opposition leader al- khativ "in any foreign city to discuss the preparations for national dialogue." clashes erupted in egypt monday on the second anniversary the overthrow of longtime dictator hosni mubarak. police fired teargas and water cannons at groups of demonstrators after thousands marched to the gates of the presidential palace two years later, demonstrators are pressing their demand for the departure of egyptian president mahmoud morsi. in yemen, tens of thousands rallied in the capital sanaa to mark the two-year anniversary of the popular uprising that ousted longtime president saleh. demonstrators called for him to face charges for the killings of protesters and vowed to continue the revolution until their demands are met. yemen's political groups are to hold new talks on a new constitution beginning next month. israel has authorized the construction of hundreds of new
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settler homes in the occupied west bank just days after president obama announced an upcoming visit. more than 340 homes have been given the green light in 27 west bank settlements and another 90 homes have been authorized for settlement near ramallah. senate democrats are preparing to hold a vote today on the nomination of defense secretary hopeful chuck hagel despite republican opposition. republicans won a delay of hagel's confirmation vote last week after demanding more information on his financial ties. republican senator lindsey graham of south carolina has vowed to block votes on both hegel and cia nominee john brennan by invoking the partisan dispute over the deadly attacks on u.s. consulate in benghazi, libya. speaking to cbs news, lindsey graham said he would place a hold on the votes unless the white house provides confirmation on its response to the incident. >> i don't think we should allow britain to go forward with the cia directorship, hagel to be confirmed as secretary of
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defense, until the white house gives us an accounting. what did the president do? >> the pentagon has announced an expansion of benefits offered to gay and lesbian couples. members of the military in same- sex relationships will receive full access to base facilities and groups, as well as joint assignments. but a number of benefits will still be denied, including health-insurance coverage and on base housing. those restrictions are expected to remain in place until the 1996 defense of marriage act is fully repealed. a federal judge has overturned a state law in arizona barring funding for the reproductive services group planned parenthood. the law banned the use of public funds by state or local government to contract with the organization that provides abortions as one of its services. in his ruling, u.s. district judge neil wake found the law unlawfully denies medicaid recipients the right to choose a medical services. in a statement, planned parenthood of arizona said --
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and those are some of the headlines. this is "democracy now!,", the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. looking atday's show north korea. the united nations security council is holding an emergency meeting today after north korea conducted its third ever nuclear test in defiance of u.n. orders. according to international monitors, the underground explosion was roughly twice as large as north korea's last nuclear test in 2009. the state-run korean central news agency said -- president obama condemned north korea's actions and urged "swift and credible action by the international community." the u.s. ambassador to south korea also condemned the nuclear test. >> this is a very provocative
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act that undermines a regional peace and stability. and i think it would be critical for us to chordate closely with our colleagues in south korea moving forward. >> today's nuclear test is north korea's first since leader kim jong un took power in december 2011 following the death of his father, kim jong il. for more we're joined by independent journalist tim shorrock. he grew up partly in south korea. his most recent book is, "spies for hire: the secret world of intelligence outsourcing." the significance of this nuclear test? >> i think the significance is the state the right from the no. 3 in federal agency which is this test is aimed at stey of td states. i think for the last couple months and in the next couple of weeks, the increasingly have been focused on the role of the united states, the role of the united states military in south
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korea and the whole asian region. and they have been talking a lot about these massive war games the united states and south korea that take place almost every year, of which one took place last week. and they see the united states and these war games as free hostile and a threat to their sovereignty, as they put it. >> explain what the u.s. and south korea are doing. what are these exercises they are involved in? >> every year the u.s. and south korea hold very large military exercises. there are different ones. there is one called "o plan 509a" which is basically a practice run of regime change in north korea. it ostensibly is to prepare for a collapse of the regime. but they practice first strike nuclear capability, invading north korea, practice taking over the territory of north
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korea and having south korea- u.s. forces takeover bid while there is a crisis there. there are other word games, basically aimed at testing the weaponry the united states and south korea have. these are seen as very dangerous. on the other hand, exploding nuclear weapons and testing nuclear-weapons itself dangerous and a provocation, as many countries have stated. >> i mean, this is the largest nuclear ever test, the largest test that has been done to date by north korea. talk about how significant is this, how this fits into politics there and the relationship between north korea, china, and what this means for the u.s. on it happened on the eve of the state of the union address. do you think the north korean leader is aware of that? >> first of all, i don't think it is the largest test they have
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done, although, reports this morning are contradictory and fragmentary, as they would be only 12 hours after the event took place. it is not clear whether it was uranium or plutonium explosion, how large the bomb was exactly. what i read in the south korean press is it actually was a smaller kind of test designed as they've been trying to do to put some kind of weapon on a missile. they have been testing missiles, as you know, and they launched one a few weeks ago. that is not clear exactly how large it is. we will know that in a few days because there is massive u.s. intelligence around there that can sniff the air and figure out exactly what kind of explosion and was. as for the chinese and the north koreans, they remain very close but i think in china, patience is running out. i think they feel that north korea is being provocative, upsetting the strategic
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situation there. china has close economic ties with south korea, japan, the entire region. the chinese government has said or made a few statements in recent days that are saying this would be a very dangerous step with them to take to test and other nuclear weapon. so i think there is a lot of concern in china itself. for the purposes of this, particular test, it is important for us as americans to keep focused on the role of the united states, which is massive. and a lot of journalists in america right about it as if the u.s. is just sort of some neutral observer that happens to the brunt of north korean criticism. in fact, there was a korean war that ended 60 years ago this july, ended with an armistice that did not end with a peace agreement. the two commands that sign the agreement were the u.s. and north korea. north korea has been saying for
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years it would like to have a peace agreement to formally end the war, and would like to have negotiations directly with the united states. i have been saying this for years. i think the only way out of this for the u.s. is to hold direct negotiations and talks with north korea on stopping its nuclear program and stopping its missile program. >> what it economic integration look like and how much does north korea need that support? >> north korea needs economic support and stability desperately. its economy is in very bad shape. there are pockets of healthy economic technological development such as software -- computer software. high-ranking executive from google was there a few weeks ago visiting with the governor of new mexico. they do export certain kinds of software and computer games. they have the basis for many different kinds of industries --
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steel, transportation -- but over the last 25 to 30 years since relieve the collapse of the soviet union, it has been downhill. they have some economic ties with south korea. there is one remaining large project between north korea and south korea, which is called the case on industrial zone where korean companies have set up a north korean workers produce goods for south korean companies for export. they desperately need integration with both china. russia is talking about building and oil pipeline to the korean peninsula that would go through north and south korea and some oil from the southern parts of korea. there is a lot of talk about it, but i think before anything can happen, there has got to be some kind of peace and stability on the peninsula. >> thank you for being with us,
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independent journalist who has covered korea for over 30 years, tim shorrock. his latest book is, "spies for hire: the secret world of intelligence outsourcing." when we come back, the pope has resigned, the first time a pope has resigned and 600 years. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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>> the legendary jazz trumpeter donald byrd died last week at the age of 80. this is "democracy now!,", the war and
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peace report. i'm amy goodman. speculation is mounting over who will become the next pope after pope benedict shocked the catholic church money when he became the first pontiff to resign in a 600 years. the 85-year-old pope cited ill health as the reason for his departure. >> dear brothers, i have convoked you to this. not only for the recanalization but also the communication to the decision of great importance for the life of the church. after having repeatedly examine my conscience before god, i have come to the certainty that my strength, due to advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the ministry. >> catholics around the world expressed shock over the pope's resignation. >> i was shocked because i love
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the pope. every sunday i come to listen to him and be blessed by him and to shout "long live the pope." but to understand he is only human, unfortunately, it would have been worse tonight if the news had been the pope had died. >> the pope also has the right to get sick. if you stick to the point where he cannot carry out his function, then he should resign. >> the thing is, he is a bit old and wants to rest. it is too much. he has had to deal with too much. the parents of children who were molested. i think that has left him retired. >> the pope's tenure was marked by several scandals, perhaps most notably his handling of sexual abuse scandals and the catholic church, including allegations that he ignored at least one case of abuse while serving as a cardinal. bachmann show that in 1985 he
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delayed efforts to defrock a priest convicted of molesting children. last year he oversaw an assessment from the vatican that found the largest and most influential group of catholic bans in the u.s. had "serious doctrinal problems" because it had challenged the church's teachings on homosexuality and male-only priesthood, among other things. we're joined by two guests who are familiar with these issues, barbara blaine and sister simone campbell. her group was heavily criticized in the vatican's report last year she became one of the "nuns on the bus" since then last year to an election the group went on a national tour to bring attention to the impact of vice-presidential candidate paul ryan's budget could have on the nation's poor. we welcome you both. sister campbell, your response? were you surprised by
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the pope's announcement? how to characterize the >>'s reign? >> i was totally surprised, tully taken off guard like i think most catholics were or most of the world was. i think the papacy of pope benedict is next. there have been some very strong teachings that have been very important is the second trick was historic in lifting of the needs of those who are oppressed in our world and saying until you have justice, you cannot have charity. ironically, it is the very same struggle for justice that i think has been at the heart of some of the most typical parts published difficult parts that there is been sexual abuse and other really horrible evens that have created victims all over the world has not been adequately dealt with by our church or our leadership.
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is sen. -- it is sad. it has been a very mixed time. >> barbara blaine, your assessment of pope benedict? >> i think hope benedict is being held out as this hero in dealing with the sex abuse crisis, but i think is really important to recognize that he has made a lofty statements and even met with some of the survivors and has offered apologies, but i think it is important that we not mistake words for deeds and action. if you look carefully, he has not really taken the kind of action that might protect children across the globe today and in the future. >> where does the catholic church go from here, sister simone campbell? what do you expect to happen?
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>> i think there'll be a lot of their rising about who will be the next pope. right now i think earnings to be a serious conversation about where we go as a church, what is the church we seek an want? and had many of the conversations about how can we live christ's message today in the world? this should be a broad conversation, not to split the -- limited to the electors, but all of us who care deeply about our faith. we need to engage that conversation and lift it up. we need to inform the 120 electors that will convene in rome later on in march. >> sister campbell, you went around the country on a bus talking about, at the time, paul ryan, the republican vice presidential candidate's budget. but talk more about pope benedict. he recently spoke to thousands of followers in the vatican on a
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day recognized by the catholic church as the world day of peace. he addressed the issue, for example, an economic inequality. his emphasis on that and his the use of capitalism. maybe we could play a clip of the pope on this issue of economic inequality. >> i was afraid to tell my mother because i can think she would believe me. she would say a priest would never do something like that. >> we will pull out of that and just did a comic on economic inequality. >> that is the amazing thing. pope benedict has challenged first world nations to say it is our trade policy, our economic approach, the high concentration of wealth in our nation by those at the top that has created this great inequality that then does not allow all people to live with their human dignity,
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to have the basic needs. he has been extremely direct and strong in his words and in his teaching that has really feel our nuns on the bus. because what we did was to say paul ryan's budget was in fact just a continuation of the business as usual, keeping money at the top, and those who are the working poor in our society keeping them poor. pope benedict spoke out strongly against that and consistently has supported the means of those of the economic margins of our society. >> i want to play a clip from a recent documentary by oscar- winning filmmaker alex gibney that a investigates a long- simmering case of pedophilia here in the u.s. that involves the catholic church, examining how charismatic priest in milwaukee abused more than 200 deaf children in a catholic boarding school under his control. the young students were molested again and again by father lawrence murphy, who stalked them in their dorm rooms at night, on trips to his cabin,
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and even in the confessional booth. this is a clip from, "mea maxima culpa: silence in the house of god." >> i was afraid to tell my mother because i did not think she would believe me. she would say, a priest would never do something like that to children. i kept it secret. i mother had already been through so much pain. my brother had been electrocuted, my father had hung himself, i mother had been through so much pain and i did not want to hurt her. it was hard for me to communicate with my father and so my dad would speak and father murphy would interpret. my father never wrote back and forth because he did not know how to write well, so i depended on further murphy and the nuns
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to communicate with my father. >> that was terry cohut, one of the courageous deaf men who came for a letter to protect other children from father murphy and if the ball-demand he be held accountable. that is from, "mea maxima culpa: silence in the house of god." the priest victims tried for more than three decades to bring it uncovers documents from secret vatican archives that betray the pope as both responsible and helpless in the face of the abuse. barbara blaine, talk more about the particular role of this pope and his role as a cardinal as well. >> i think it is important to recognize that very case you're referring to with those boys at
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the school for the deaf children in milwaukee, pope benedict previously worked in a position as head of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith. in that role, he was a cardinal and known as cardinal ratzinger. at that time, back in the 1970's and 1980's, the victims were speaking up and coming forward and trying to get some semblance of justice. more important, they wanted to prevent other children from going through what they had been through. so they contacted the people in the vatican and cardinal ratzinger was involved. he had the opportunity to intervene, remove father murphy from his position in the priesthood, and cardinal ratzinger chose not to do that. there are letters, apparently, father murphy started writing to cardona ratzinger and asked that he be permitted to live out the rest of his life as a priest in
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good standing. cardinal ratzinger made the decision that that was more important than ensuring the safety of children or try and heal those who they knew had been violated by father murphy. i think that is unfortunately the legacy that pope benedict left for us, one with words but not action. something simple like today, and in these last two weeks, we would even encouraged pope benedict to use these last days that toeign in a way protect children. for example, if he were to encourage all bishops across the globe to do what about 30 bishops in the u.s. have done, which is to post on their websites the identities of all the credibly accused priests from the diocese. if pope benedict would encourage that, that would immediately make children safer because then parents and teachers would know
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to keep the children away from those men. or if he were to encourage every bishop in the world to turn over any evidence they have of sex crimes to police, that could go a long way. >> if you were to punish any bishop or a church official who has enabled or covered up for a predator, or if he were given a reward to a whistleblower, those are actions that we believe would show children safety is important. unfortunately, pope benedict has not taken any rough concrete action. he has just made nine statements and given us words. >> as early as 2005, then colonel ratzinger obliquely referred to priestly abuse in meditations he wrote for the way of the cross on good friday. he wrote -- sister campbell, what you think
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the pope could do on this issue before he leaves. >> i think the most important thing he can do is try to respond in a pastoral way finally and, as barbara said, to specific actions that would protect children. i think the challenger is pope benedict has always been an academic, has always been in the vatican offices and has never really walked with people who suffered. he is the academic approach regarding economics and does not know what it is to live in poverty. he has the academic approach of what children have suffered. he needs to really -- i would hope in these last few weeks he would extend himself passed orally and say for the sake of all of god's children, there needs to be protection and all catholics need to respond in a way that supports children, supports families, and prevents
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of these in the future, and prevent the exploitation of poor people in our nation and our world. those are two issues he could take a step on. >> sister simone campbell, executive director of network, a catholic social justice group. and also, barbara blaine, founder and president of survivors network of those abused by priests, or snap. this is "democracy now!,", the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. as black history month continues, we spend the rest of the show looking at the lives of two civil rights pioneers, paul and eslanda robeson. paul was one of the most celebrated singers, actors of the 20 century, the son of an escaped slave, he was blacklisted, hounded by the government for his political beliefs. for years he was struck by the fbi as well as the cia, department of state and numerous other government agencies. in 1949 effectively was blacklisted. in 1950, the government revoked paul and eslanda's passports.
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in 1958, paul robeson was interviewed by a austenite thompson on the radio. >> [indiscernible] i was attracted then to many members of the labor party and my politics embraced the common struggle of all of the press peoples, especially the working masses, specifically the they bring people of all of the world. that defines my philosophy. we are in working people, laboring people the negro people. there's the unity between our struggle and those of white workers in the south. i've had white workers shake my hand and say, "paul, we're fighting for the same thing." i do not believe that a few people should control the wealth of any land. it should be a collective ownership. >> what is your reaction to the
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passive resistance in montgomery? >> i think it was a magnificent movement. there's nothing i can say as far as the nonviolent solution to the problem, there could be no other solution within the frame of things today. this is a very important contribution. nobody could think of a violent solution unless someone wanted to ask someone to be destroyed. that would be absurd. but on the other hand within that framework, i think the negro people have to be extremely militant and demand a little more than they are demanding today and to do a little more, not to do something -- to do other things as well as pray. >> do you think there's been a change in the attitude of the negro churches toward militant, political, and economic action? >> i think there has.
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i belong to design on church. -- zion church. douglas was part of that church,. tubma. . tubman was a member. we have eight consistent speaking out for our rights. you want to be free like anyone else. i think a lot of the churches, however, a lot of the responsibility less on our churches because that is for so many people go. >> mr. robson, do think our history as a singer and actor have suffered because of your involvement in political action? what i feel that only suffered. i certainly did not expect in my democracy that would be
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prevented from exercising my views but i have kept singing throughout the years. i just made a recording the other day for vanguard, which they felt was better than any other records i have ever made. my voice is still in fine shape. >> paul robeson in 1958. when we come back, barbara ransby on paul rosen's wife eslanda. ♪ [music break]
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>> this is "democracy now!,", the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we turn to a new book that looks at eslanda robeson, known by her friends as essie. he were to end colonialism in africa and racism in the united states. the new biography is called, "eslanda: the large and unconventional life of mrs. paul robeson." it is by barbara ransby, professor at the university of illinois. i spoke to her yesterday and asked for began by outlining paul robeson's wife eslanda's y >> she was born in 1895 and died in 1965. she initially was a scientist, a chemist, met paul robeson in 1919 and they married in 1921. she became the architect of his early career. she was his manager and
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publicist and confidante and coach. but then she decided to really forge a more independent career of her own. she was a journalist, anthropologist. she author or co-author of three books, one about her travels in africa and another with pearl buck in 1949 and another one was a biography of her husband paul. she was an intellectual, anticolonial activist, an anti- racist. she advocated women's rights. she allied herself with the world anti-capitalist movement at a time when that was very costly to do so. she was someone who interestingly stood on the presses of history in many ways. she went to colonial africa in 1936. she went with paul to the front lines of the spanish civil war in 1938. she traveled into africa to the congo in 1946. she knew many people.
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she really was both a witness to and participant in some of the major and pivotal moments in phenomenon in 20th-century history. it was a fascinating research project, and also as an activist myself, i really felt the history of political repression in the united states, the role of african american women and leadership for progressive and radical movements, and black internationalism were three very important themes in american and global history there really needed to be for grounded. >> for those are not familiar with paul robeson, the significance of their relationship and who he was in american life, not to mention essie. >> paul robeson was an internationally acclaimed performer, artist from early film and stage actor. he was enormously talented.
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he had been a graduate of columbia law school at the time when that was unusual, this is the least, from african- american. he was intellectually and academically accomplished. he was also an all-american at rutgers. he then went on to embrace a series commitment and a very profound commitment to the black freedom movement, to the world movement against capitalism, and spoke out against that and paid a price for it. he was called before the house un-american activities, his passport was taken, he was blacklisted. he is number is large talent and large political commitment, and also the fact along with essie persecuted for those commitments. >> can you explain how she traveled? travel for paul robeson was extremely difficult because of the kind of anti-communist witch
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hunt that was going on in this country. his passport was taken from him. if you could talk about what happened to him, then talk about how essie robeson traveled. >> they both travel to get up until 1950 when the passports were taken. the passport returned in 1958 when the supreme court case said it was unconstitutional to take an american citizens passport because of their political beliefs. they had both refused to sign affidavits saying they were not communists. it also boasted publicly they were not members of the communist party -- they also both publicly said they were not members of the communist party, but refuse to feed into the anti-communist history at the time. they were not able to travel than for eight years. they made the best of the time they were here. they certainly were not cowed or silent. essie travel around this country
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during that time, as was a correspondent at the united nations. she wrote extensively -- action at the founding of the united nations in 1945, then she became a course on a four progressive and black publication. she wrote about decolonization in africa, north africa, sub- saharan africa, the conflict in korea. she wrote about india. she really have as broad world a few even when they were confined to this country. they traveled extensively before 1950. essie traveled extensively on her own. then after 1958. before 1950, she goes to africa in 1936 for the first time. it is really against the backdrop of italy's horrific invasion and occupation of ethiopia that she sailed south first to africa -- south africa and in uganda and stays there
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for a couple of months over that summer. then she meets some of the future leaders of the african natural congress. she is without paul. she took her young son with her on that trip. she meets people at a conference in 1936 in south africa, legendary figures in south african freedom movement. she maintained a relationship for many years with them after that. then she spent time in uganda during her philanthropdoing res. she traveled throughout the congo, followed by british intelligence. the rise of pretty nasty things about her the less they write some pretty nasty things about her. in one document reflected that the british spies for following her indicated she was a dangerous customer because she
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dared to offer the idea that africans or africa should be ruled by africans and they found that quite subversive at the time with all sorts of exclamation points and gestures of outrage in this document. so she traveled extensively before the passports were taken. after, one of her first troops was in 1958, she returned to sub-saharan africa to ghana and need. the engagement with the world was continuous. >> barbara blaine, you write about essie robeson refusing to buy into a series of african primitivism and instead seeking to trace the connections between africa and the wider world after traveling to africa, you >> cursing, when i travel to africa, i discovered along to the write --
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can you talk about this connectedness and the belief that she expressed in some of her political writings and activism? >> of course. we have to remind listeners the time it was. this was a time of release horrible stereotypes about africa and the notion of africa as a dark continent, and really unapologetic racism. she was speaking and writing against the very prevalent view. i must say, many african- americans were not readily embracing african heritage. so for her to talk about africans as brilliant and beautiful and intelligent was really subversive intellectual gesture. she had studied at the london school of economics with the
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future leader of kenya, one of her classmates, as for a number of future leaders. she talked about the influence peaking her interest in africa and the complexity of africa as a continent, and the very specific culture of southern and east african or central africa. so she traveled to africa in 1936 to do her anthropological work in part because she disagreed with some of the racist comments she found among her classmates, and some of her professors at college. she wrote of the connectedness between african-americans and africans and said, europeans have the old country in sub- saharan africa, even though it is not a country, it is our old country -- plural old coutnries.
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the >> you read about her connectedness to africa and africans, her commitment to african freedom and release speaking out against the racist futrell of africa, it extended beyond the african continent as well. there are similar quotes where she talks about her connectedness to world political family of colored people, people of color, all of the world. this was a moment of decolonization when many africans were fighting against colonialism, fighting for independence, were also linked with indians and others who are fighting for independence. the neighbor family --hnehru family were close friends of essie and paul, particularly essie. she saw the in in struggle for independence as an extension and the people engaged in the
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struggles as for people. for me it is interesting as a black feminist and also someone whose politics are very much international -- i think international solidarity is very important -- essie road at a time when many people were being penalized for having a global view and thinking in those terms, really reached out to the world and saw what was called the third world project to be a part of her project. that project of challenging imperialism and fighting colonialism and neocolonialism and africa and beyond. >> can you talk about essie and paul robeson testifying before the house un-american activities committee, set up by joseph mccarthy in 1953, three years into their passports been taken, not being a believe the united states, the significance of
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this? >> essie testified separately. she testified before mccarthy's -- joseph mccarthy. we talk about that era of which hunting and mccarthyism because he was such a virulent anti- communist. essie testified before mccarthy's senate committee in july 1953. paul testified later. she is called for mccarthy's committee not exclusively because of her relationship to paul, because her book "african journey" had called for african independence, and that was seen as subversive. she was questioned about her book before mccarthy committee. it is funny to read the testimony because she was very defiant. she was first asked about the book in a very insulting way. of course, the committee was very racist in some of its assumptions about the blacks who testified before it.
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and sexist as well. she was asked if she wrote the book by herself. she said, i am perfectly capable of writing a book by myself. i take offense at the question. she then flipped the questions the committee was asking her and asked them, what was their legitimacy? how did they dare ask for these questions? she invoked the fifth amendment against self-incrimination but also the 15th amendment, which is the right of blacks to vote. she did that to point out some of the southern senators who served on the committee came from states where black people could not vote. so she really tried to use that testimony to make her own political statement rather than to be a victim of mccarthy's inquisition. afterwards, across the kind of glared down at her and said, if you're a man i would hold you in contempt.
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so she testified. both paul and essie refused to renounce their radical friends and refused to renounce their own radical views. again, they paid a price for it. paul was blacklisted, they lost their house, they had extensive fbi files and so forth. some of your shows have dealt with the issue of continued surveillance and repression in the u.s. i think that lesson of the cold world -- where it is a very cautionary tale. >> barbara ransby, you're not baker and book "ella the black freedom movement," for young people perhaps were not born before al baker died in 1986, if you could just give us a thumbnail sketch of her significance and her public life for the civil-rights movement?
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>> socom ella baker was really active from the 1930's on. she is active in harlem in the 1930's and the like corporate of movement, critical of capitalism and looking for alternatives. she cast her net widely in terms of the people she worked with. in the 1940's, she was an organizer for the nacp. surely travel through ku klux klan territory in difficult circumstances to organize membership for her group. her approach was not just to hand out membership cards. she wanted people to own the organization, to hold a leadership accountable. she wanted to set up structures in that organization so people, particularly people without credentials, with our resources, without prestige, it would be able to land leadership and
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direction and their voices would be heard. so she both in principle but also in practice fought for a very democratic form of organization in the groups she worked with. in the 1950's, she traveled south to work alongside dr. king and setting of the southern christian leadership conference after the montgomery bus boycott. as i mentioned before, she had a different style of leadership. it was a little difficult for her at times working with some of the seven ministers who thought she should be taking notes and getting coffee, when she really had this enormous network of organizers through the south who respected her, who knew her strengths and talents and insights to build movements in campaigns. so surely earned the respect people like ralph abernathy and i think dr. king as well. but when the sit in movements began in 1960, ellen baker
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quickly turned her attention to that work and to the great potential she saw in that wonderful in merchant organization, snic. she convened the first meeting of which was formed at her all modern -- alma mater. many people came out of snic have gone on to do important work. o these people were ella's political children. she was a mentor and intellectual anchor for that organization even across generational lines. it was a major contribution to the black freedom movement. it was a larger struggle for the progressive change in this country. she did many other things. i could go on and on, i think her contribution to snic was quite asignificant
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critics what lessons can president obama learn everything these biographies? >> and ask that question, we assume some of the policies president obama has implemented that many of us on the left would disagree with our out of lack of awareness. i don't think they are, actually. i think he knows the history of the elevator and i am sure he knows the history of paul robeson and eslanda robeson. i think the lessons for the rest of us are really to invest in the kind of networking relationship building and solidarity work that define eslanda robeson's career, that it is not going to be the heads of state who are going to forge a different vision of the world, but rather people who are
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building organizations that are stretching and making the global connections independent of the nation's where our citizenship lies. i think in terms of bill baker's lesson, her lessons are also about building grass-roots movements and not placing so much emphasis and faith and hope in a single charismatic leader. i think many people have looked to barack obama as a savior. the first black president, spoke out against the war and is now carrying out targeted assassinations and drone attacks. it breaks my heart. but i don't think it is for absent or the absence of historical knowledge. i do hope in the second term we will see much of the knowledge and insight that i think obama had about history and about what it means to try to stand on the right side of history, even when
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it is difficult. i hope that will come to the floor barbara ransb. >> barbara ransby, author of, "eslanda: the large and unconventional life of mrs. paul robeson." democracy now! is looking for feedback from people who appreciate the closed captioning. e-mail your comments to or p.o. box 693 new york, new york 10013. [captioning made possible by democracy now!]
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Democracy Now
WHUT February 12, 2013 6:00pm-7:00pm EST

Series/Special. Current Events & News in the World

TOPIC FREQUENCY North Korea 18, U.s. 14, Africa 13, Benedict 12, Paul Robeson 11, South Korea 11, Us 9, United States 8, Korea 8, Essie 7, Murphy 6, Barbara Blaine 6, Mccarthy 5, Amy Goodman 5, Barbara Ransby 5, China 5, Syria 4, Simone Campbell 4, U.n. 4, Baker 3
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